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Ports & Ships Maritime News

10 May, 2011
Author: Terry Hutson



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A local regular at Richards Bay and shiny from a new paint job in the dry dock is the coastal tanker WAPPEN VON MŰNCHEN (8,266-dwt, built 2003), seen here in this ‘action shot’ at the Richards Bay roads. Picture by Hugo Schuitemaker


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South African port statistics for the month of April 2011 are to hand courtesy of Transnet NPA. These show that total cargo handled at all ports amounted to 21.628 million tonnes (21.468mt for the previous month) while containers totaled 316,545 TEUs (313,775-TEUs for March).

This compares well year on year against the figures for April 2010, when the combined ports achieved a total volume of 18.742 million tonnes. Containers handled for this April were 316,545 TEUs, as compared with 296,397 TEU for April 2010.

On the basis of a 15.3% increase in volumes by weight and a 6,79% improvement in containers handled, everyone in the port system might have reason to feel that things are going quite well just now. They might however want to reflect for a moment on the effects of the not so smooth changeover from the COSMOS to the Navis SPARCS N4 operating system which caused many headaches and even more delays. This may have affected the total cargo handled at the ports. For example, figures for Durban show a total of 185,153 TEU for April 2011, down from 197,031 TEU in April 2010, but a total volume of cargo handled at the port of 5.868 million tonnes compared with 5.419mt in April 2010, indicating that while breakbulk and bulk cargo tonnages were up, container numbers were down.

The port of Ngqura is continuing to average around 40,000 TEUs a month, and unless there is an injection of new shipping to this port there seems little prospect of the numbers changing. An interesting exercise is to add both Ngqura and Port Elizabeth container volumes together as indicative of boxes handled at the twin Eastern Cape ports, which shows quite a dramatic increase on previous years. This is partly due to a transfer of transshipment cargo from Cape Town to Ngqura, and possibly a small quantity of the same from Durban, while there is a suggestion of some ‘new’ transshipment growth as a result of Ngqura coming on stream.

The country’s two bulk ports each had goodish returns, with Richards Bay close to 7 million tonnes and Saldanha just over 6mt and both ports increasing their volumes on the year before.

As usual the figures shown in this report reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers by number of TEUs and no longer by weight resulting in the value of container cargo by weight being ignored in the Transnet reports.

To arrive at such a calculation, PORTS & SHIPS has used an estimated average of 13,5 tonnes per TEU to reflect tonnages, which may be a case of under-reporting but until the IMO enforces the weighing of containers at all ports we will have to live with these estimates. Nevertheless, we continue to make this distinction to avoid South African ports from being under-reported internationally.

For comparative purposes readers can see statistics from 12 months ago by clicking HERE for April 2010 figures.

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Figures for the respective ports during April 2011 are (with March 2011 figures shown bracketed):

Cargo handled by tonnes during April 2011

PORT April 2011 mt Mar 2011 mt
Richards Bay 6.817 7.031
Durban 5.868 5.772
Saldanha Bay 6.039 5.821
Cape Town 1.101 1.086
Port Elizabeth 0.906 0.825
Ngqura 0.570 0.540
Mossel Bay 0.138 0.184
East London 0.188 0.210
Total all ports m.tonnes 21.628 21.468

Containers (measured by TEUs) during April 2011
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT April 2011 TEUs Mar 2011 TEUs
Durban 185,153 182,207
Cape Town 56,398 59,330
Port Elizabeth 25,948 23,434
Ngqura 42,240 39,920
East London 4,605 4,548
Richards Bay 2,201 4,336
Total all ports TEUs 316,545 313,775

Ship Calls for April 2011

PORT Apr 2011 vessels gross tons Mar 2011 vessels gross tons
Durban 359 10,559,625 341 10,044,123
Cape Town 367 3,735,451 205 4,242,364
Richards Bay 162 5,108,354 146 5,219,514
Saldanha Bay 46 3,246,655 50 3,267,364
Port Elizabeth 96 2,342,503 101 2,389,314
Ngqura 31 1,448,468 31 1,460,217
East London 25 705,001 21 474,418
Mossel Bay 74 213,996 57 341,820
Total Ship Calls 1160 27,360,053 921 25,978,986

- source TNPA, but with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages



April figures showing the volume of coal exported through RBCT were not available at the time when this edition went live. The April statistics will be included as soon as they become available by retro-posting on this page, so please come back here later.

Throughput at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal showing exports in tonnes


MONTH Monthly exports YTD  exports Annualised M/T/pa Ships Trains
Jan 2011 4,389,925 4,389,925 51.55 45 597
Feb 2011 4,567,950 8,957,875 55.27 44 705
Mar 2011 5,364,676 14,322,549 57.93 57 710
Apr 2011  4,807,041 19,129,590  58,03  53  689 
May 2011          


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Port of Walvis Bay

Namport, the Namibia Ports Authority, says that the past year has been a challenging one, made more so because it followed on the record results posted in 1999, at a time when the financial crisis was affecting world markets.

The report continues:

Global economic activity and world trade volumes declined by 12% in 2009, with Namibia experiencing a lag effect of this economic down-turn. Since 90% of the world’s trade is carried by ship, the impact of the economic crisis on the shipping trade has been exceptionally severe. Any analysis of Namport’s performance is therefore being prepared against this background.

Despite the current outlook of renewed optimism, few players in the industry are committing to sustained volumes. This reflects an environment that is still highly uncertain. Furthermore, the positive effect of China’s demand for Africa’s resources does not impact Namport directly, as uranium, Namibia’s prime resource export, is moved in high- value, low volume containers. Resource-driven upturns therefore have a limited impact on the port’s revenue.

The effects of the global economic crisis were manifested in the reduction of cross-border trade with Angola, which impacted heavily on Namport. Container volume figures were below those of previous years for seven straight months, and only saw an upturn in late 2010 as confidence returned to the industry. Global container volumes declined by 10% in 2009, yet Namport managed to limit this impact to a decline of 3.5% in container volumes. Had Namibia’s zinc export from the Port of Lüderitz been containerised as in the past, this decline would have been further mitigated.

Namport attracted the French shipping line CMA CGM to its transhipment portfolio, in accordance with a trend in the industry of shipping lines consolidating their routes. The port’s overall cargo volume declined marginally from 5.38 million tons to 5.25 million tons, the difference attributable directly to reduced volumes from Angola.

Cross-border volumes through the Walvis Bay Corridor routes experienced a mix of fortunes. Whilst the Angolan volumes were down by 25%, volumes to Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) increased exponentially. Zambian volumes reached the enviable position where outgoing volumes matched incoming and ultimately, this situation will lead to lower transport costs.

Based on the above trends and other projections, Namport has entered a period of preparation for the coming years. This is evident in the new container terminal expansion, which has passed the Environmental Impact Assessment stages. The terminal will be completed in late 2013 and will cater for an additional 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU’s).


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Kalmar RTGs

Namport acquired six new Rubber Tyre Gantries (RTG’s) from Kalmar and two new Liebherr Mobile Harbour Cranes. These significant purchases will enable the port to improve on efficiency at both the container and break-bulk berths. The equipment will also enable Namport to effectively utilise the existing space.

Namport has invested a great deal of time and money in training and staff development. The long overdue recruitment process, which is aimed at acquiring the needed expertise, has now taken precedence. This will develop a service offering that is of world-class standard and enable Namport to effectively compete with other ports in the SADC region.


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EMSA monitoring system will track ships across a wider danger zone

The EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) in conjunction with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) have collaborated to develop an integrated maritime monitoring service (MARSURV) to allow EUNAVFOR to track merchant vessels in the High Risk Area off the coast of Somalia.

EMSA is the technical cooperation platform of the Commission and EU Member States in the field of maritime safety. The monitoring service has been designed to fuse multiple sources of ship specific information - MSCHOA registration and UKMTO reporting information - and positional data (Long Range Information Tracking – LRIT and SATELLITE AIS) in a real time environment.

EUNAVFOR says that MARSURV will greatly enhance the ability of counter-piracy forces to manage and risk-assess the thousands of merchant vessels transiting across this huge area. It will also assist in incident management and improve the ability to warn merchant ships in imminent danger of piracy, ultimately improving the protection from piracy provided to all merchant shipping.

“In delivering this capability, EUNAVFOR would like to recognise the substantive efforts and contributions of EMSA and those of the Flag States who have provided the LRIT data of merchant vessels in the High Risk Area. The provision of this data is critical to the effectiveness of the project,” said EUNAVFOR in a statement.

It warned that ships registered to flags not providing this data will not benefit from the enhanced situational awareness that such a real time picture provides to counter- piracy forces. EUNAVFOR and EMSA say they will continue to work closely with the IMO whose efforts in establishing the ‘IMO Anti-Piracy LRIT Distribution Facility’ have been essential in developing the project.

“MARSURV represents a significant step forward in our ability to understand and support the massive volume of merchant traffic that transits the high risk area,” said Major General Buster Howes, Commander of EUNAVFOR. “The next step is to encourage all flag states to provide LRIT data to counter-piracy forces through the IMO distribution facility; currently data is donated from only 66 flag states.”

Italian warship assists Evergreen boxship

A day after the Evergreen container ship ITAL GLAMOUR managed to out-manoeuvre pirates that were attacking the container ship approximately 700 n.miles east of Salalah in Oman, an Italian warship, the ITS ESPERO arrived on the scene to render assistance if needed.

The container ship came under a determined attack from four pirates in a single skiff, who opened fire on the merchant ship using Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers. One of the rocket grenades landed unexploded on the deck of the ship and navy personnel from the Espero later disposed of it. They also conducted an inspection of the ship which has since resumed her interrupted voyage. ITS Espero has also resumed her original mission.

The attack on ITAL GLAMOUR is the same incident reported in PORTS & SHIPS in yesterday’s News Bulletin.

Maersk Line raises piracy surcharge and calls for renewed action

Maersk Line has raised its emergency-risk surcharge as a result of increasing pirate actions in the Indian Ocean which are covering a much wider area than before.

Erik Rabjerg Nielsen, Maersk’s head of daily operations said he estimated that the company’s antipiracy costs will increase from US$ 100 million to $ 200 million this year because ships are being forced to sail faster and longer to prevent highjackings. Chief Operating Officer Morten Engelstoft said the present situation was completely unacceptable. “The general consensus that we share with our officers is that piracy is a growing concern, but there is simply not enough being done about it internationally,” he said.

He said that urgent and effective action needed to be taken now, because seafarers and vessels are being attacked every day. He pointed out that the environment also suffers. “Higher speed is one of the most important factors in evading pirate attacks, and this adds somewhere in the region of 11 million extra tonnes of carbon emissions – and that is a very conservative estimate.”

Maersk Line makes approximately 2,000 trips through at risk areas off the Horn of Africa each year. These are being made with larger ships, which are more difficult to gain access to than smaller vessels. Rabjerg Nielsen said that Maersk operates with larger ships with more capacity, which he said isn’t needed, but which costs money. “As a consequence, our capacity utilisation on these routes is very low," he said.

“Piracy is bad for the shipping industry, it's bad for global trade, and it's important that politicians and all involved take a larger responsibility now to try to put an end to it. Our message is that not enough is being done, and now is the time to act.”

Maersk has appointed a former army major as anti-piracy chief who is tasked with developing a stronger strategy and who will lobby competitors and politicians for a tougher international stance on piracy. – source Wall Street Journal, Cargonews Asia, IFW


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The Super Lynx helicopter from the South African Navy frigate SAS Isandlwana, seen on Tristan da Cunha to airlift injured survivors to the warship. Only one man had to be stretchered to the aircraft. Picture Tristan da Cunha Government

The South African Navy frigate SAS ISANDLWANA is on her way back to Cape Town with injured seamen from the Taiwanese fishing vessel LAI CHING, which exploded last week some distance from the South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cinha. See our report in yesterday’s News Bulletin.

An article in the Tristan online news service tristandc.com said that thanks to the “sterling efforts of the South African Navy, injured crewmen off the Chinese fishing vessel, Lai Ching, have been transported to Cape Town for further medical treatment and repatriation.”

SAS Isandlwana, which left Simon’s Town at 21h00 on Tuesday night (3 May) arrived off Tristan at first light on Saturday 7 May.

“Her helicopter and medical team were ashore by 08h00. They were met by Inspector Conrad Glass and Andy Repetto and the Administrator. Andy Repetto had been in touch with the SAS Isandlwana since 04h00 on Saturday to monitor progress.

“The medical team went straight to the hospital where they were met by Dr Sridar and his medical staff; and then carried out their assessments and praised the work that Dr Sridar and the staff of Camogli Hospital had done. There was no question that in some cases lives had been saved and the decision to divert to Tristan had been the right one.”

A gas explosion on board the Lai Ching on Saturday, 19 April resulted in a number of seamen being killed, others going missing at sea and leaving 18 injured, 11 of them seriously. The survivors were picked up by a sister Taiwanese fishing vessel and taken to Tristan da Cunha for medial treatment. Authorities on the island requested help from South Africa and the government despatched the navy frigate SAS Iandlwana which is carrying additional medical teams.

Of the 11 seamen taken ashore, five were admitted to the island’s small hospital. The remainder of the crew remained on board the sister ship Hsiang Man Ching which left for Cape Town.

According to the Tristan online news service, the injured crew were airlifted onto the ship by the frigate’s helicopter and by 10h30 that morning she was on her way back to Cape Town. The report suggests that the three-hour turnaround at the island is ‘another record?’

“I was very impressed with the way the operation had been managed and executed since last Sunday,” said the island’s Administrator. He went on to say that the speed in which the South African Navy had mobilised and reached Tristan was a real feat. The helicopter crew and medical team had deployed rapidly and effectively and the patients were quickly on their way back to Cape Town. Tristan’s Government had also worked closely with the Taiwanese authorities in London and Cape Town, as well as with the FCO and MRCC in Cape Town and the cooperation of all had been excellent. “Job well done,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, SAMSA reports that the fishing vessel Hsiang Man Ching arrived in Cape Town harbour yesterday (Monday) at 09h00. The vessel had on board 16 survivors from the Lai Ching and was also carrying the bodies of six fishermen who died in the explosion and subsequent sinking of their ship.

The SAMSA report confirms that SAS Isandlwana is also on her way back to South Africa and is expected to dock in Simon’s Town tomorrow (Wednesday, 11 May) at 08h00. –source tristandc.com and SAMSA

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Dr Sridar from Camogli Hospital on Tristan with his colleague, Dr Mboya from South Africa. Picture Tristan Government


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Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Singapore-flagged anchor handling tug VARADA IPANEMA (1922-gt, built 2011) which has been berthed on the repair quay at Cape Town for several days and which is thought to be nearing readiness for sailing. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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